Athlete, Akani Simbine first came onto our radars last year when he was part of the 2016 South African Olympic team. And while it was his athletic skills that intrigued us, we must admit that it was his gorgeous face that really got our attention.
Under a week ago, 24-year-old Akani broke a record by running the fastest 100m on South African soil. And it’s just the beginning of the season... if he’s off to such a great start, we can’t even begin to imagine what he’ll do next.
Although he lives and studies in Pretoria, Akani is originally from the East Rand (east of Johannesburg), proving once again that there is talent in our tap water.
In addition to the East Rand’s magical tap water, Akani believes he takes after his mom, Elsie. She is a gifted sprinter whose opportunities were stifled by apartheid, so it’s almost poetic that her son has excelled as much as he has.
We caught up with the soft-spoken athlete earlier this week at the launch of a new Bubbly Bar in Greenside, Johannesburg.
Speaking of east rand talent, Akani is not only a hip hop fan but a major fan of his homeboy, rapper, Frank Casino.
“We come from like the same area, he lives up the road from me and I’ve known him for a couple of years now and I’ve seen him grow and become the artist that he is now. Just knowing that he’s doing his thing and he’s achieving his dream is inspiring to me because I’m one person who believes in achieving your dream and living it”
When asked if he’d ever consider a sports meets music collaboration (perhaps for a major brand endorsement deal) in future featuring him and Frank, Akani beams before exclaiming excitement at the idea.
“That would be amazing you know! We’re from the same place and the same era and we know how hard we’ve worked just to get to where we are now and having something like that would be pretty amazing now that you mention it…”
Akani admits that the fame and new-found interest in his brand came unexpectedly but he’s doing his best to embrace it.
“Now I just find myself going to events and attending launches and it’s pretty nice to just be able to experience new things and a different side of life. A life that I didn’t know I could be part of,” said Akani.
When the news that he would be part of the Olympic team broke, the East Rand was abuzz with support for the athlete. Support which he says he is eternally grateful for.
“It’s really great getting the support from the guys from the east. That’s where we’re from, that’s where I grew up, that’s where my friends are, that’s where home is for me. And just getting their support and knowing that they have me in their thoughts and prayers when I go and compete is really great.”
Akani adds that he’d love to see his reach go beyond his hometown, though.
“I just want to reach more people, more neighborhoods and areas around there and just touch as many people as I can”
A passion he shares with his girlfriend, Abigail Visagie (sorry ladies).
When asked if he’d ever dare do anything other than athletics, Akani admits to being unsure about that right now, before adding that if he ever did try something different, it would have to be something related to sport because he’s a sportsman at heart. He actually used to be a soccer player before he decided to focus on track and field full time.
Akani does have somewhat of an interest in venturing into entertainment by way of modelling and we can totally see that happening. Just look at him! And that smile…
Main image credit: Instagram